Menu Relationship issues
When grandparents don’t approve of your baby

The birth of a baby usually brings joy to the whole family. But, when the grandparents don’t approve, it can create tension for all of you.

It’s important to try and resolve this, as grandparents’ input into your child’s life can  be quite beneficial. Grandparents pass on family heritage and traditions, promote skill development, and serve as a source of friendship and support [1].

Whether the problem is with your own parents or your partner’s parents, leaving it unresolved could mean your family misses out on love and support. It can also cause extra strain on your relationship as a couple.

Why grandparents disapprove

If your parents disapprove of your partner (or if your in-laws disapprove of you), they may be struggling to adjust to the fact that you have just made a very strong form of commitment in starting a family. If they disapprove of the relationship, they may have chosen your commitment to parenthood as an opportunity to express it.

Or, sometimes, new grandparents can be pushy, controlling or critical without even knowing it. They might think they’re being supportive or helpful.

Facing resistance from your own family can be frustrating – exasperating, even. If either of your parents have caused arguments between you and your partner in the past, you might fear more of the same, but there is hope. Research shows that parents’ initial disapproval over their children’s pursuit of parenthood is often short-lived. The following statement comes from a study on same-sex couples:

For many parents that experienced initial disapproval from their families about pursuing parenthood, often times this reaction “softened” with time [2].
Helping your parents accept your family

Whether the issue sits with your partner’s parents or your own, resolving the thing and moving forward requires both you and your partner to work together and agree on your approach. Having the conversation together as a couple shows that you’re united. But it might be better if you each take the lead with your own parents.

As a couple, decide exactly how much involvement you want your parents to have. Look for compromises and try not to make anything feel like a personal attack on either of your parents. When talking about loved ones (even if they’re being annoying), it’s natural to want to defend them.

Start by reminding your parents how much you value them and that you’re looking forward to their involvement with your baby. Talk with them about how you’d like them to be involved, rather than about what you expect from them. Tell them about the help you would appreciate, and the help that won’t be necessary. Remember to say, “We have decided” rather than, “I think”. This will reinforce that you’re a team and that you’ve thought things through properly. 

Once you’ve agreed your boundaries, it will become much easier to see when one of your parents has overstepped the mark, and you’ll be able to agree on an appropriate response together.

Even if your parents are applying pressure unintentionally, family conflicts and fallouts can disturb the peace in your relationship. Stay open and honest with your partner throughout, so that when you come to face external difficulties from others, you can work together to deal with it.

 

References

[1] Schmeeckle, M., & Sprecher, S. (2004). Extended family and social networks. Handbook of family communication, 349-375.

[2] Koller, J. M. (2008). A study on gay and lesbian intergenerational relationships: a test of the solidarity model. ProQuest.

Comments 0